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Ethnic Cues

The Role of Shared Ethnicity in Latino Political Participation

Matt A. Barreto

Publication Year: 2010

New theoretical propositions, original data, and rigorous empirical tests are what one looks for in cutting-edge social science. Fortunately, all three are apparent in Ethnic Cues. The author has pushed his thinking to develop new ways of understanding and explaining patterns of Latino voting behavior. ---Luis Ricardo Fraga, University of Washington, Seattle "Matt Barreto investigates some of the ramifications of two new related developments in American political life: the stunning growth of the Latino immigrant population in recent decades and the accompanying exponential explosion in the number of Latino candidates running for political office at the local, state, and national levels." ---Reuel R. Rogers, Northwestern University Until recently, much of the research on political participation has resisted the idea that Latino voters rely on ethnic cues. The discussion has become increasingly salient as political strategists have learned to define individual voting blocs and mobilize them in support of a candidate. Nourished by the debate over immigration, the search for the Latino voter has now blossomed into a national political obsession. Against this background, Matt A. Barreto assays the influence of ethnic identification on Latinos' voting behavior. Barreto asks whether the presence of co-ethnic candidates actually does mobilize Latino voters in support of these candidates. His analysis of in-depth candidate interviews, public opinion surveys, official election results, and statistics finds that it does. He goes on to describe the dynamic of voting in the Latino community and sharpens our appreciation of how ethnic considerations influence the electoral choices of Americans more generally. In a time of intensely focused campaign appeals, Barreto's work has much to tell us about the mechanics of public opinion and the role of race and ethnicity in voting behavior. Matt A. Barreto is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Washington and Director of the Washington Institute for the Study of Ethnicity, Race, and Sexuality (WISER). Cover art credit: © iStockphoto.com/P_Wei

Published by: University of Michigan Press

Series: Politics of Race and Ethnicity, The


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pp. ix-x

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1. Assessing the Role of Shared Ethnicity in Latino Political Behavior

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pp. 2-17

In 1960,Henry B. Gonzalez was elected to the U.S. Congress from a heavily Hispanic district in San Antonio, Texas. As the only elected of‹cial of Hispanic or Latino descent in the House of Representatives,1 Gonzalez had both enormous and little in›uence. Within the Chicano community, he was the key voice on Mexican American politics and gained immediate prominence, but in Washington, D.C., he was but 1 of 435 representatives and found it dif‹cult to make himself heard.

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2. Latino Politics in the Twenty-First Century: A New Theory of Latino Political Behavior

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pp. 18-40

In 1980, the decennial census ‹rst used the term Hispanic to count persons of Latin American ancestry living in the United States. That census revealed that almost 15 million Americans were Hispanic or Latino,1 accounting for roughly 6.5 percent of the overall U.S. population. The politics of Black and White that was present during the 1960s and 1970s was now being forced to make room for a new minority group, although few people were equipped to address “Latino” concerns.

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3. Theory Meets Reality: Elite Perspectives on Latino Mobilization

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pp. 41-66

“The Latino agenda is the American agenda” was the most popular refrain that Latino candidates for mayor and their top-ranking campaign staff declared when interviewed about their campaigns in 2005. They obviously had prepared this opening statement for my interviews about shared ethnicity and the mobilizing effects of Latino candidates on Latino voters. “I did not run as a Latino; I was a candidate who happened to be Latino,” each mayoral candidate said, using almost identical language.

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4. Does Ethnic Identification Trump Party Identification?: Evaluating Latino Vote Choice in a Hypothetical Setting

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pp. 67-87

Latino voting preference is a relatively understudied topic among scholars of political behavior and Latino politics alike.With few Latino candidates running for office in the 1970s and 1980s, early scholars of Latino politics devoted little attention to the impact that co-ethnic candidates might have on Latino vote choice. Instead, early studies tended to focus on either participation (i.e., turnout) or party affiliation but not on vote choice (see Stokes-Brown 2006). The research on Latino candidates was more descriptive in nature, focusing on major figures such as Henry Gonzalez and Corky Gonzalez as case studies, not empirical analyses of Latino voters.

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5. The Impact of Latino Mayoral Candidates on Latino Voters: New Evidence from Five Mayoral Elections, 2001–2003

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pp. 88-118

In the two decades since this ‹nding ‹rst emerged, scholarship on Latino politics and electoral behavior still ‹nds that Latinos are less likely to participate in politics than are members of other racial and ethnic groups (see, e.g.,Wol‹nger and Rosenstone 1980; Calvo and Rosenstone 1989;Verba, Schlozman, and Brady 1995; Arvizu and Garcia 1996; Shaw, de la Garza, and Lee 2000). Latino participation rates remain low for some well-documented and generally well-known reasons that apply in a variety of contexts, including demographic factors (De- Sipio 1996a; Hero and Campbell 1996) and issues surrounding immigrant status and citizenship (J. A. Garcia and Arce 1988; Calvo and Rosenstone 1989; Uhlaner, Cain, and Kiewiet 1989).

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6. Latino Candidates for State Legislature and Congress: How Multiple Co-Ethnic Candidates Affect Turnout

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pp. 119-135

To this point, we have considered Latino candidates as individual political forces, running unique campaigns, and connecting with Latino voters. However, a given political candidate for office is never the only show in town. On the contrary, Americans typically go to the polls to elect numerous candidates for numerous of‹ces, ranging from commissioner of the water board to state legislator to U.S. president.

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pp. 136-153

On January 20, 2007,William Blaine Richardson III made history by announcing his intention to run for president of the United States. Richardson, the governor of New Mexico, became the first credible Latino candidate for the U.S. presidency. After the ‹rst few “exploratory” months of the campaign, Richardson returned to Los Angeles, his birthplace, on May 21 to announce his of‹cial candidacy in a bilingual address delivered while Richardson was surrounded by prominent Latino officials.

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8. Ethnic Cues and the New American Voter: Implications and Conclusion

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pp. 154-160

In May 2005, Los Angeles elected its ‹rst Latino mayor in more than 130 years. Once a Mexican city in Alta California, the City of Angels has the largest percentage Latino population of any U.S. city. However, Whites still comprise about 50 percent of the Los Angeles electorate, with Latinos constituting about 25 percent, Blacks 17 percent, and Asian Americans 7 percent. Thus, Antonio Villaraigosa’s victory was not a Latino-only phenomenon.


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pp. 161-166


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pp. 167-184


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pp. 185-186

E-ISBN-13: 9780472021857
E-ISBN-10: 0472021850

Page Count: 240
Illustrations: 24 Tables, 15 Figures, 1 Graphic
Publication Year: 2010

Series Title: Politics of Race and Ethnicity, The